RELIGIOUS EDUCATION 363'
and the impressions it conveys are, so to say, sculptured in his-
soul in an indelible way. The mother who takes her little child
with her to church, prepares a religious sense in him which could
not be aroused by any teaching.
It is therefore a mistake to wish to teach the distinction
between good and evil at a precocious age, in which interest for
this problem has not awakened. That is why the development or
moral conscience in this sense would be premature.
The sentiment for what is good can be cultivated at this age
by affection and a sweet disposition in one's dealings with the
child. What the children really need then is a feeling of security,,
through the protection given by their elders. Also education there-
fore must be in accordance with these natural conditions. The God
who loves and protects the child and sends His angels to accom-
pany him invisibly day and night is the foundation of their-
Only later on a social sense is awakened and a responsibility
for one's actions felt; this is the time to accompany this new
development with a guide—a guide in the world and especially a
guide who directs one's own conscience.
To speak of evil to the small child is to teach him something,
which he is not capable of understanding, or at least which he
cannot assimilate. Great prudence is therefore required in the-
teachers so that she may not hurt the soul of the child with argu-
ments ill suited to his nature. For instance, on one occasion, one
of the Franciscan Sisters Missionaries of Mary, in teaching sacred
history and speaking of Cain, suggested that certainly when he
was a very little boy he must have been unkind to Abel. Some
hours after the lesson, a little one who was working (meditation!)-
burst into loud weeping, saying, " Oh, I shall become like Cain,""
and he confessed to the Sister, who was trying to console him, the-
little faults of which he had been guilty towards his companions.
Religious, and free in their intellectual operations and in the-
work which our method offers them, the little ones show that they
are strong spirits, exceptionally robust as are the small bodies of"